If you have degenerative arthritis in the knee, you know how painful it is to get around. While you can find many arthritis knee treatments, the best treatment for knee arthritis to emerge lately is stem cell therapy. This treatment uses stem cells taken from your own bone marrow or adipose fat tissue to eliminate inflammation and pain while healing your damaged joints. Arthritis of the knee is no picnic; get the arthritis knee treatment you need to get back to an active lifestyle.
Your daily routines require more mobility than you probably realize. Your knees and ankles work hard all day without a second thought — until they start causing you pain. The pain may be caused by a knee injury or an ankle injury, but it also may be due to arthritis.
Arthritis of the knee or ankle affects your everyday life, making simple tasks like walking across a room an excruciating journey. Whether the pain of the disease is periodic or chronic, the symptoms are generally the same:
- Dull pain
- Limited movement
How Your Knees Work
Your knees are the hardest working joints of your body, bearing your weight and yet providing you the flexibility to walk, run, squat, jump and stand. They’re a structure of bones, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, muscle and soft tissue. The three bones of your knee are:
- Also called your thigh bone, the femur is the largest bone in your body.
- The bone in your lower leg, it’s also called the shin bone.
- You may know this as your kneecap. This triangular bone protects the joint in front.
The tendons in your knee connect these three bones to the muscle you use to bend and straighten the bones. The ligaments run directly from bone to bone. Tendons and ligaments are tough, fibrous connective tissue. There’s also soft tissue, such as bursa sacs, which keep your knee lubricated enough to avoid friction when you move.
The Types of Arthritis
Arthritis can be caused by infection, disease or normal wear and tear over many years. When it hits — and it can hit any joint in your body — it causes the symptoms you associate with arthritis. Arthritis in the knee may not completely disable you, but the lack of lubrication can make movement very painful. There are many types of arthritis that affect your knee and ankle, but the three most common types are:
- Rheumatoid arthritis. Your body protects itself by attacking foreign matter that can lead to infection. But when your immune system attacks the membrane that helps lubricate your joints, it’s called rheumatoid arthritis. Although this is a common form of degenerative arthritis in the knee, it can also affect other areas, including arthritis of the ankle.
- This disease affects a large number of people; it’s one of the most common forms of arthritis of the knee and ankle. The condition breaks down the knee cartilage, which cushions your joints. Without cartilage, your bones rub against each other. The constant rubbing leads to joint damage and swelling. Osteoarthritis can disable you.
- Psoriatic arthritis. Similar to rheumatoid arthritis, this condition originates in your immune system. It occurs when your body creates more skin cells than normal, leaving little room for other joint components, like cartilage. Psoriasis can also appear as lesions on different areas of your skin. Psoriatic arthritis is often accompanied by pain, stiffness and swelling.
Arthritis in Knee Treatment Options in New York
Knowing the cause is key to finding the best treatment for knee arthritis. A NY pain management specialist like Dr. Leon Reyfman runs tests in addition to examining your painful knee or ankle. These tests may include blood tests, flexibility and strength tests and imaging tests such as X-rays, CAT scans or MRIs. You may also need arthrocentesis, where your doctor withdraws fluid from your knee for lab analysis.
Traditionally, your choices involved helping you cope with the pain of degenerative arthritis in the knee:
- Pain medications
- Physical therapy and exercise
- Medicated injections
- Corticosteroid injections
- Stem cell therapy
Sifting Through the Knee Arthritis Treatments
Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs help manage your pain in the short term. But taking a constant dose of medication, even over-the-counter medicine, may do more harm than good. Physical therapy and exercise work to strengthen the muscles that surround and support your knee or ankle. Exercise reduces the effect of early-stage arthritis and lowers your risk of further injury.
Once your arthritis gets bad enough, though, exercise becomes painful. You can turn to the medicated injections used for ankle and knee arthritis treatment. They do reduce pain and inflammation, but you can’t rely on them long-term. Corticosteroid injections send fast-acting relief from pain that lasts for six months or more. But your pain will return. Also, repeating these injections actually can break down your cartilage further, leaving you in more pain than when you started treatment.
Is Joint Replacement Surgery the Answer?
Knee surgery as a treatment for knee arthritis should always be a last-resort option, when nothing else has worked. Not only is surgery the most expensive solution, it takes the longest recovery time. Total knee replacement is the most common procedure. Your total knee joint is replaced with prosthetics composed of ceramic, plastic or metal components.
Any kind of surgery, even arthroscopic surgery is invasive and risky. And once you’ve had surgery, you can’t undo it. Besides the risk of infection, which you face with any kind of surgery, other risks include:
- Allergic reaction to the anesthesia
- Bleeding and blood clots
- Nerve damage
- Artificial joint failure
- Continued pain
Choosing the Best Treatment for Knee Arthritis
Stem cell therapy for knees or for ankles has emerged as an alternative to surgery. Arthritis in the knee treatment with stem cells works by using your own stem cells, extracted from your bone marrow, to fight pain, reduce inflammation and actually begin to rebuild your joint. Because it’s a natural process, using your body’s own healing mechanism to fight the arthritis of your knee or ankle, it takes time, but it works to heal your joint, not just mask the symptoms.
Stem cell therapy for arthritis uses your body as a renewable resource to help restore or improve motion by encouraging new cell regeneration. Recovery time is shorter than traditional surgery because it’s less invasive. Stem cell therapy also works for osteoarthritis, as well.